District pushes forward with improvement plan

ST. JOSEPH — Now that the St. Joseph school board has its new superintendent, the board is turning its focus on improving the district for the next few school years.

Curriculum Director Kelly Gaideski updated board members on the district’s progress on its school improvement plan at Monday’s board meeting.

The district is in its second year of the five-year improvement plan. It focuses on new concepts for reading, writing and mathematics, among other subjects. 

In the district’s 2018-23 improvement plan, Gaideski said the district is slowly changing its goals each year to address any new problem areas.

“We want our goals to be all encompassing,” she said. “Our goals are using a system of support, creating a learning-centered culture that is aligning the curriculum assessment and how we design our instruction.”

Gaideski said systems of support deals with social, emotional and academic influences.

She said one of the major focuses that teachers are being asked to incorporate in the classroom are restorative practices, which deal with building relationships, lessening suspensions and looking at alternatives to disciplines.

“An example might be a student coming in late to class. Instead of a teacher giving them detention, they try to set a better tone for students to get into learning,” she said.

Gaideski said the district is sending a mix of high school teachers, counselors and students to the first annual Student Mental Health Summit in Lansing, which is being put on by the Michigan Department of Education.

Staff will also attend cultural intelligence training and a team of middle and high school teachers will take part in the MDE’s African American Student Initiative.

“That’s something that our data has identified as an area we could focus on,” Gaideski said.

Gaideski said one of the changes the district introduced a few years ago that has gotten results is that transition to small group instruction – splitting students up into smaller groups, rather than teaching an entire class all at once.

As far as academic support, Gaideski said all three elementary schools will now have Level Literacy Intervention systems in place.

The LLI system is a product that focuses on reading intervention, which the district bought with title money for Brown and Lincoln elementary schools. The district decided to add an LLI system to E.P. Clarke Elementary School this year.

“It’s a reading intervention system that showed success last year,” Gaideski said.

Superintendent Thomas Bruce attended his first board meeting in the position. Bruce, who comes from a school in California, thanked the board Monday and gave a recap of some of the district employees he’s met with.

The board’s next meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Sept. 16 at the North Lincoln Administration building.

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